Okay, okay! I’ve had some rest & finished the book, so now I’m ready to be social again.
It was most definitely an eventful trip, full of sightseeing, encounters with relatives, & surprisingly little emotional upheaval despite a wedding, a break-up, mental illness, & the blend of two culturally diverse families.
But first- an anecdote, a cautionary tale of being too prepared: the night before I left, I was having trouble sleeping- kept going over things in my head- so I finally got up around 2:00, remembering that I hadn’t left an itinerary for the guys or a list of things the Sam needed to take care of while I was away (if it’s not in writing, he’ll forget). I went to the computer to type it up, needing to go on the internet to get some of the addresses & phone numbers; while I was there, I figured I’d best print up another copy of my passport application status page, in case the one I had got lost or damaged. That’s right- my passport didn’t arrive, although I submitted the application 14 weeks prior to my trip (& still isn’t here L)- so in order to get back in the country I needed my photo id & application status page. So, anyway, I’m on the State Dept website, double checking to see if I need anything else, where I’m directed to make sure I comply to the entry requirements of the country I’m entering. Big mistake. It’s 2:30 am & I’m leaving the country in 5 hours- but I look anyway & see in big, bold letters;
“Passport or gov’t issued id with certified copy of birth certificate”.
Which is in my safe deposit box.
At the bank.
Which opens at 9:00.
An hour after I take off.
There has to be a mistake; how could I have missed that? I call the airline carrier that I’ll be flying- she reads the same thing I did. I call the State Dept hotline- they are closed for another two hours. I call the airport customs dept- they tell me the US requirements, but can’t be certain of the Canadian regulations. I call the airline carrier that I booked with- she says there shouldn’t be any problem- just bring what I have & plead ignorance if they fuss on the other end. Great. A fifty-fifty chance of being deported on my first visit to Canada. This will be a favorite story in my family for years to come, especially as I’m acknowledged as the smart one.
I fill Chris in on the situation & formulate a plan as we drive to the airport; my youngest brother won’t be arriving in Vancouver until 5:00 that evening, so Chris will drive back home, get my birth certificate, & go into work. If I have a problem at customs in Canada, I’ll call him- he will meet my brother & give him my paperwork, which he’ll bring along to get me out of the Canadian version of the Pokey. It’s all good. Either that, or go home, get it myself & drive to Vancouver. Not my favorite idea, but I can’t miss my brother’s wedding- who knows when one of them will ever do something so conventional again!
So, I get to the airport, hike a quarter mile into the terminal through a maze of construction detours, & check in at the counter; my paper work is checked, stamped, & boarding pass issued. No questions, no problems; maybe this ignorance thing will work. I have to wait a couple of hours & manage to get a little sleep before boarding the flight; two hours later, I’m landing in Vancouver, & my stomach starts doing the merengue. While I weaving my way through the long queue at customs, I start getting the cold sweats- I’m certain that I looked terribly guilty & any minute, sirens & lights will go off & armed officials will be surrounding me. Finally, it is my turn; I hand the woman all my papers- she squints up at me, unsmiling, then asks me the purpose of my visit. I say I’m here for a wedding, then some sightseeing- I babble a bit about my first trip alone, my brother getting married for the first time at 39, that I’m originally from Texas- you know, stupid nervous rambling. Next thing I know, she’s handing me my papers & pointing to the left, saying “You go over there” & I’m done.
Wow- that was easy. I promptly find a bathroom (nerves affect me that way) & then call Chris to tell him everything is fine. He answers on the second ring, listens quietly, then says, “That’s good news, because I can’t find your birth certificate.”
“Are you sure? It’s in the envelope marked Birth Certificates.”
“I have the entire box here (he was still at the bank) & I’ve looked through everything- it’s not here.”
Another wave of cold sweats- this could have been soooo bad; I apologize to Chris for the wasted trip & tell him not to worry about it- I’ll find it when I get home. After I retrieve my suitcases, I head off into another maze of construction detours (is every terminal on the west coast of North American under construction?) to find the car rental desk & then my hotel for the night. It isn’t until a few hours later, while lying down, trying to rid myself of a stress-induced headache, that I remember where my birth certificate is located.
I had to submit it with my passport application.
I don’t think I’ll tell Chris that part.
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